Antique Snooker Cues

Antique billiard cues evolved from wooden sticks, called maces, that players used to shove the balls into positions on the table.

From Mace to Cue

Although no one is exactly sure when the first game of billiards was played, historians believe it was most likely in France during the 1400s. Based on the popular lawn game of croquet, a border was built around an indoor table and the top was covered with a green cloth to make it appear more like grass. Players did not strike the balls to move them, instead they pushed them with the wooden mace.

During the 1600s, when players found themselves with their billiard balls near the table's border, or rail, they would turn their mace around to strike the ball with narrow end of the mace's handle. The handle of the mace was called the queue which means tail. Over time the word queue was changed to cue.

The First Billiard Cue Tip

During the 1600 and 1700s the shape of billiard cues evolved into tapered lengths of wood. However, they still did not afford the players any control over the ball since the tip was part of the solid wooden piece.

It was not until 1807 that Francoise Minguad developed the first tip for the billiard cue. These early cue tips were made of leather.

Marquetry inlaid Cues

Type of decorated billiard cue made predominately in the 1700s and 1800s in Europe.

Marquetry is the art of inlaying various colored woods to form pictures or patterns. Marquetry furniture has been crafted for over 500 years, and the technique has been applied to embellish European billiard cues since at least the 1700s. The word "marquetry" derives from the French "marqueter" meaning "inlaid work." Once an image has been designed, the marqueter selects contrasting colors, wood grains and shapes of veneers to create the composition. These veneers are then cut out, carefully fitted and glued to a base wood. The veneers themselves are generally thin sheets of wood, and sometimes metals.

During the Renaissance, new marquetry techniques were developed and the designs themselves became highly sophisticated, creating landscapes, figures, and other complex scenes, often making full use of architectural perspective. Polychrome marquetry was invented, using natural or stained woods. This new advance in marquetry technique became known as "intarsia" or "tarsia," from the Italian words "intarsiare" (to inlay) and "tarsiare" (an inlay or incrustation). It was Italian marqueters working in southern Germany in the Augsburg region around 1620 who saw the potential of the recently invented fret saw, and who developed the next important marquetry technique: "tarsia a incastro." Tarsia a Incastro is more commonly known as Boulle (or Boule) marquetry, from its association with the work of the French royal cabinet maker Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732). Probably the most famous of all the marqueters and cabinet makers in history, Boulle popularized the use of this technique using predominately brass and tortoiseshell.

Marquetry cues were crafted in Europe for playing billiards, and reached their heyday in the 19th century. They were expensive objects even then, ordered primarily by the nobility for use in their private billiard rooms. In the 1800s a fancy marquetry cue would sometimes be presented to the winner of a tournament as a trophy. Fine antique examples are rare and command many hundreds of pounds, depending on intricacy, quality, originality, and condition.

A few marquetry and intarsia cues are still being produced today. The Italian pool and billiard cuemaker Longoni makes several models of marquetry cues, and American custom cuemaker Samsara is particularly known for their unique intarsia cues. Richard Black, pfd Studios, and Thomas Wayne are among the contemporary makers who have created cues using intarsia.

Antique Cue Stick Handles

The handles of many hand crafted antique cue sticks are like beautiful works of art. They are made of exotic wood and feature intricate carvings and exquisite inlays of one or more of the following materials: •Silver •Gold •Mother of pearl •Rare and exotic wood

These lovely old billiard cues are often wrapped in delicate silk fabrics to keep them safe from damage.

Antique Billiard Cues by Brunswick

In 1845 the Brunswick Company made their first billiard table and introduced billiard equipment, including cues, shortly after. Billiard cues made by Brunswick were made of hardwoods including: •Maple •Ash •Ebony •Rosewood

In the late 1800s many of the billiard cues were made of ash. To make the cues straighter and stronger, another hardwood was spliced to their bases. Brunswick manufactured the spliced cues in a variety of different weights.

In 1906 the company was producing more than 400,000 cues each year. They also had enough reserve in their drying kilns to manufacture an additional 600,000.

Antique Cue Makers from Around the World

Throughout the world cue makers crafted their works creating cue sticks that are highly sought after by the collectors of today.

•Many of the billiard cues made by Henin Aine of France feature beautiful inlaid mother of pearl designs. •Opened in 1839, The B. Finck Company of Germany crafted elaborately styled billiard cues many featuring intricate inlays of exotic woods. •For a time Italian cue makers were crafting cues of woods including hickory and hornbeam. They then started using ramin imported from the Far East. Cues are no longer made of this wood as ramin is now an endangered tree. •Billiard cue makers from the United States include the Albert Pick Company and the Rieper Manufacturing Company.

Resources for Antique Pool Cues

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